Fans of the New York Yankees are well versed in the Yankees’ desire to get under the $189 million luxury tax. Right now, the Yankees owe $80.9 million to four players, C.C. Sabathia, Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Teixeira. Derek Jeter has a player option for between $9.5 and $11 million depending on escalators. If Jeter opts in for $9.5 million, the Yankees’ payroll is now up to $90.4 million for five players.
To complicate matters the Yankees will have David Robertson and Brett Gardner going through their third round of arbitration. Robertson agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal to avoid arbitration this season and could be due to make close to $5 million next season.
To further complicate matters, Major League Baseball also takes player benefits under consideration with the luxury tax. Right now, those benefits equate to a little over $10 million and could possibly escalate to around $12 million for 2014. So, let’s subtract $12 million from $189 million and we get $177 million for the Yankees to spend on players. In reality, the Yankees have to fill out a roster with $86.6 million. If the Yankees give Robertson $4 million they now have $82.6 million to fill in 19 roster spots.
Re-signing Robinson Cano could cost the Yankees $20 million per year on average. If Cano is re-signed the Yankees now have $60.6 million and only have six roster spots filled.
Brett Gardner will make close to $3 million or more in arbitration depending on how he bounces back this season. Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and Clay Rapada will be arbitration eligible for the first time after this season. Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Boone Logan, Mariano Rivera and Kevin Youkilis will be joining Cano as free agents after this season.
The Yankees are stuck between a rock, a hard place and a meltdown. Compounding the problem is the entire Alex Rodriguez situation. Will he be healthy enough to play third base full-time when he returns? If he is healthy and starts hitting home runs he can possibly hit some of the $6 million escalators in his contract. For example, he is just 13 home runs away from reaching an escalator for hitting 660 home runs. Hopefully, A-Rod can come back this season and hit 13 homers this season and alleviate the Yankees’ payroll next season. That, however, is unlikely considering he hit just 18 last season in 122 games and will be lucky to appear in 90 games this season. That means the Yankees might be facing a possible financial sneak attack from Rodriguez.
You can see how much trouble the Yankees will have trying to fill out their roster. Brian Cashman has his work cut out for him. It won’t be easy trying to replace three starting pitchers, four bullpen arms, a center fielder and an entire bench but that is exactly what Cashman has to do on an extremely tight budget.